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He kick started the gold rush in Northern Queensland

He was credited with finding the first gold-bearing stone as a child which established the town of Charters Towers.

Born in north-western Queensland in 1861 John Joseph 'Jupiter' Mosman was an Aboriginal who, as a small boy, went to work at Kynuna Station. While there, he met Hugh Mosman from Tarbrax Station who hired the young lad, giving him his English name. He also provided his nickname Jupiter, due to his eyes being so large, luminous and limpid like a planet.

Jupiter Mosman in later years. Courtesy Wikipedia

There had been a few discoveries of gold in the northern Queensland area around 1871 and Hugh decided he wanted to go prospecting, so took Jupiter, who would have been about 10 years old and met up with George Clarke and a Mr Fraser. The four of them left Ravenswood, where gold had been discovered, and worked their way to the Seventy Mile Pinnacle at Mount Leyshon.

As they were camping on a creek, Jupiter saw a colourful stone and alerted the others. As it turned out, the area where they had stopped was covered in gold-bearing brownstone quartz. They had found the North Australian reef. They staked and registered their claim and found around 6000 pounds of surface gold. Thus began the gold rush of 1872 to Charters Towers.

Hugh moved to Sydney, after an accident with explosives took his arm off. He took Jupiter with him, where the young man was educated and baptised into the Catholic Church and named John Joseph. He thrived in sports such as cricket, football and running and also took up horse riding.

When the pair returned to Charters Towers in 1891, after Jupiter finished his education, the young man became a drover, working at a number of pastoral stations. When he had time, he would go prospecting and is also credited with finding other mineral bearing areas, including wolfram, an iron, manganese and tungstate mineral, at Kangaroo Hills and at Stockyard Creek the following year.

In his winter years he entered Eventide Nursing home in Charters Towers. At the time Aboriginal people weren't allowed in homes, but a petition by the people of Charters Towers soon made an exception for him, due to his association with the town.

Early photo of Jupiter Mosman's grave. Courtesy Jupiter Mosman webpage

One 'Well Wisher', as he signed his name in the paper, went further, contributing 10 shillings to a fund for Jupiter so he would have some pocket money, as Aboriginal people weren't entitled to receive a government pension. Mind you, Lady Luck remembered him and he won a 83 pounds in the Golden Casket prize in 1940. It was said he spent his winnings on fine clothes and was the best dressed man in the nursing home.

Headstone and monument for Jupiter Mosman at Charters Towers. Courtesy Findagrave.

He died on 5 December, 1945 at around 84 years old. His legacy remains as the founder of Charters Towers and a number of monuments were erected in his honour. Jupiter Mosman Housing Company Ltd provides welfare services to Australian First Nations people in Charters Towers. Jupiter Casinos in Townsville and on the Gold Coast are named in his honour.


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